Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Utility Security

One of the consequences of the security market maturing, and the convergence we are witnessing of security functionality into the OS and network, is that it will become "invisible" like most utilities such as dialtone, electricity etc., and taken for granted. What this means is that eventually its cost will become absorbed into "per seat pricing" pretty much like EDS and IBM revolutionised outsourcing 10 years ago with per-seat pricing.

We are witnessing this trend already. IBM Global Services has already announced a all-in-one desktop per managed seat service that includes security functions such as personal firewall, AV and patching. HP have just made an announcement that is slightly more focused on the security angle. It is interesting to note that they have teamed up with Symantec and the service includes data backup. Another point of interest is that nobody has yet cracked the answer to the question of what happens for compensation if a breach occus or data is lost - and therein lies the opportunity for this business model!

Hewlett-Packard is attempting to simplify security for small companies lacking IT resources or knowledge. The company has teamed with Symantec to help small and midsize businesses avoid virus and spyware attacks but will also offer services for patch management and data backup. HP will charge $20 per month per employee for a new security and data backup service. HP customers who were present Thursday in New York at the launch of the company's Smart Desktop Management Service said the move can be a big help to businesses. Chuck Ostrowski, director of IT for Los Angeles law firm Weston Benshoof, said that the math makes sense. "It might not stop something from happening, but it really decreases the risks," he said.

HP said the service will help small and midsize businesses keep critical business processes running and will back up the most important data for customers. But when launching the service, the company was unclear about its commitment to pay up if it lost any customer data. When asked whether it would give compensation, company executives didn't have an answer. "It's a good question, but I don't know the answer," said Kevin Gilroy, senior vice president and general manager for HP's small and medium-size business unit. "The question that is interesting is how you put a value on that data."
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